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Archive for January 30th, 2020


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Jeremiah 40 & 41: Being Quiet Amid the Storm

gedaliah[1]Nebuchadnezzar’s forces invaded Jerusalem on the ninth day of the ninth month in the eleventh year of Zedekiah (586 B.C.E.) This Jewish king had entered into an alliance with Egypt and in doing so he aggravated the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar who took the land of Judah by force.  The Jewish nation had been a kingdom paying tribute to Babylon.  Now they had become part of a greater empire, and many of her citizens were sent in exile to the place we today call Iraq.

In today’s Noontime we read about how Jeremiah, Zedekiah’s prophet who had urged the king to commit himself to God instead of doing evil in God’s sight, is at first given the freedom to go where he likes after the invasion.  His overseer is Gedaliah and we can find out more about him at this site.

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Minor_Fasts/Ideas_and_Beliefs/Tzom_Gedaliah.shtml

What we find to be intriguing about this man Gedaliah is that he had received a warning about Ishmael’s plot to kill him.  Believing the rumors he had heard to be only slander, Gedaliah welcomes Ishmael instead of being wary of him . . . and then dies at the betrayer’s hand.  Gedaliah is remembered as both the one who releases Jeremiah from prison and the one who dies through betrayal.

It is believed that Jeremiah is later whisked away to Egypt with fellow Jews who seek asylum there.  Zedekiah is forced to watch the execution of his sons after which he is blinded and deported to Babylon along with thousands of his people.  These are stories of such violence that they are difficult to comprehend; and yet they are stories that give way to hope despite their ugliness.

The prophecy of Jeremiah is one through which we understand that we are each called into a personal relationship with God.  In the following chapter we hear these words of comfort from God: If you remain quietly . . . I will build you up; not tear you down; I will plant you, not uproot you; for I regret the evil I have done you . . . for I am with you to save you, to rescue you. 

Everywhere we go there is danger on all sides, Jeremiah warns.  Yet there is safety deep within where God has planted the law by which we are to live.  Today we read about betrayal in the middle of a prophecy which brings hope.  Today we read about assassination in the midst of a prophecy about life.  Today we read about flight in a prophecy about nearness to God.  There is always a place in the darkness in which we might close our eyes, be still, and listen for the voice within.

If you remain quietly . . . I will build you up; not tear you down; I will plant you, not uproot you; for I regret the evil I have done you . . .

Let us pray that in our times of deepest stress that he have the sense to remain quiet . . . so that the Lord might build us up.  Let us pray that in our times of greatest darkness that we have the confidence to remain quiet . . . so that the Lord might plant us anew.  And let us pray that in our times of most piercing pain that we have the strength to remain quiet . . . so that the Lord can undo the evil that has been done.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Image from: http://sephardicguy.com/2011/10/02/gedaliah-who-is-he-why-do-we-fast/

Written on March 7, 2010.  Re-written and posted today as  Favorite.

For more on Ishmael and Gedaliah, go to: http://professorwillis.blogspot.com/2011/07/ishmael-and-ammonites-murder-gedaliah.html

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